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Ransomware attacks spiked – cybercriminals target remote workers

Day after day, computer threats are evolving. Each and every variant seems to be getting bigger and bolder. Companies and organizations may not have sufficient resources to counter each and every attack vector.

There has been an exponential Ransomware attack surge during the first six months of the year. These cyber criminals have narrowed down their target to spread file-encrypting malware to people who do work-at-home.

Security analysts have reported a 72% increase in new samples of file-encrypting malware. This came about when large number of organization switched to remote work as the world was hit by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Although the switch to remote work or work-at-home has been allowed by many organization to keep employees productive and continue the flow of business, it came with security risks and vulnerabilities that might be exploited in remote desktop protocols. More often than not, these are heightened by the weak passwords used by employees which provides hackers an easier way into the network.

There may be lack of training for home workers with regards to cybersecurity and strengthening wherein which the cyber criminals are capitalizing on. Cybersecurity teams are already overwhelmed by the sheer volume of remote workers that they suddenly have to configure and fortify its security. This is the real world scenario that we are all facing when it comes to remote working

Yes, as per the reports, ransomware has surged. IT and security departments are flooded with things to do and having a hard time coping to fully secure networks from attack vectors.

Safeguarding networks is a vicious and tedious process to lock down vast array of infrastructure. Worst case scenario if a ransomware gets in and successfully does a lockdown encryption, it renders the network unusable. The victim sometimes will resort to pay the ransom amount wherein which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in bitcoin or other cryptocurrency.

There are several ransomware campaigns that have specifically targeted the healthcare sector and pharmaceutical industry. They try to extort as much money from organizations directly involved with coronavirus COVID-19 treatment and research.

“We observed 77 ransomware campaigns during the first few months of the pandemic – including several on mission-critical research labs and healthcare companies,” said Sivan Nir, threat intelligence team leader at Skybox Security.

“The focus and the capability of attackers is clear: they have the means to impart serious financial and reputational harm on organizations,” she added.

Their report indicates how ransomware operations like Sodinokibi have become a well-engineered and highly effective. This ransomware enterprise pushes the profits boundaries of cyber criminals to make riskier moves – and due to the profitability, it encourages lower-level cyber-criminal operations to follow same route to make money.

Until this global coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is over, they will still keep on trying to use this ransomware campaign to get your computer infected. A network analysis needs to be done in order to secure the network. Pandemic or not, it is important that organizations and companies take the initiative to patch up and remediate vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers. VPN, firewall and other equipment need attention as well.

If you have remote workers or work-at-home employees, take this as a gentle reminder to strengthen your network before it is too late.

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